At times, it’s evident that external influences can significantly impact the way we view ourselves and our own values. It’s as if we hand over the keys to our self-esteem to those around us. When these individuals provide well-intentioned constructive feedback, it has the potential to exert a profound influence on our self-assurance. In such moments, we often find ourselves grappling with a sense of vulnerability and self-doubt, as if our self-worth is hanging in the balance, intricately linked to the words and opinions of others.

In this episode, Dr. Ann Tsung will guide you on the art of receiving constructive feedback and transforming it into a catalyst to conquer impostor syndrome. Through the lens of her personal experiences, she’ll equip you with the tools to not only uplift yourself but also emerge stronger and more self-assured.

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Key Points From This Episode:

  1. Impostor syndrome and the feeling of not being worthy.
  2. Always assess the nature of their criticism, whether you feel that it’s true or not.
  3. You need to forgive yourself first and observe the situation from a third-person point of view.
  4. You have the power to decide what to eliminate and delegate/automate certain things so that you can work things out.
  5. Instead of viewing criticism as a type of suffering, view it as a gift and a lesson in life.
  6. The language that you use towards yourself is very important. Use words that are not emotionally strong.
  7. Criticisms aren’t worth your emotional energy because there’s so much around you for you to observe and enjoy.

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About Ann Tsung, MD, MPH

AnnTsungImageAnn Tsung, MD, MPH is a physician who is triple board-certified in emergency, critical care, and preventive/aerospace medicine. She is the podcast show host of It’s Not Rocket Science Show, and a real estate investor. Her mission is to help people create time, vitality, and deep relationships so people can achieve peak performance and fulfillment in life. Her passions include mind-body medicine, functional nutrition, longevity, productivity, and human optimization. She firmly believes that everything we need is within us now.



Please note the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the speaker, and not necessarily those of the speaker’s employer, organization, government institution, or medical program. This show is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this show or materials linked from here is at the user’s own risk. The content of this show is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions. Please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that I will receive compensation from. I only mention products or services that I have used and believe would add value for you. Please note that I have not been given any free products, services, or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site.

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Full Transcript


00:06 Announcer If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So here’s your host Dr. Ann Tsung.

00:42 Dr. Ann Tsung Hello. This is Dr. Ann Tsung. Welcome to It’s Not Rocket Science Show. Today I like to talk about how to receive constructive criticism and use it as a fuel if you suffer from imposter syndrome. Every now and then, we feel like we need other people to define our self-worth. And sometimes when they give us a review or some sort of constructive criticism, we take it really hard and feel like it defines our self-worth. We’re not worthy, or we’re ashamed about what happened. And we’re letting other people down. I had a similar experience I wanted to share with you, some of the solutions I use in order to use it as a fuel to improve my life, to feel better. We’ll discuss how we can forgive ourselves first, forgive other people, and really find the gift in the circumstance, and discuss what is actually your priority. Is this something you can automate, delegate, or eliminate? And if it is something that you would like to continue to work on, then you would find a solution for it. In the grand scheme of things, we’ll look at the specific scenario. Is it really that big of a deal? Is it really going to matter in 5 or 10 years? So let’s go ahead and dive in.

01:52 I want to share with you a scenario that I personally went through. And this is why I started thinking about this. I am currently eight weeks postpartum. I have been dealing with the routines of a new baby. I am pumping as a pumping mom since I am breastfeeding. Before this, when I worked in the ER, it was only as needed basis, maybe like one to four shifts max a month. I’m a little bit slower than most people, most of the physicians who have been working there for many days, like 10 to 12 shifts a month regularly. And due to my critical care background, I tend to spend a little bit more time with the patients in the room as well, asking them some questions that are probably more critical care-oriented than ER-oriented.

02:39 Before my delivery, my efficiency in the ER is already a little bit slower compared to my peers. And now after delivery, I worked a few shifts since I needed someone. I had to pump three times during the shift. I was even slower. Probably, my productivity dropped to about 50%-60% at the time. I received feedback after the three shifts that my efficiency is down. I really needed to pick up my efficiency in order to be a team player. Because the other team members felt like I was letting them down and not carrying the team. I did take that. Initially, I agreed. It is true. I had agreed. Though because of my past, imposter syndrome, it always comes back — the feeling of feeling not worthy or feeling like I let the team down, feeling not enough, et cetera. Those type of feelings came back despite me knowing that really my productivity does not define my self-worth.

03:39 I want to share with you the most important thing. It’s that, well, number one, is it true? Is what they’re saying true or not? For me, yes, I agree to myself that my efficiency is down. It is down even lower because of my pumping. Number two, I decided to forgive others first. Actually, I realized I didn’t really feel any better. But actually, I realized I needed to forgive myself first. I would put that first: to forgive yourself whatever you did. Your bad day doesn’t make a bad life. At the time, when I received that criticism, I was ruminating on it that I wasn’t a team player. People didn’t like me. I let other people down. I can usually succeed on what I’m doing. But in this, I couldn’t. And so I was doing a lot of self-blaming, and I was giving myself a lot of negative self-talk. Really, the first thing to do is give yourself some grace. Give yourself some compassion. Most of us are doing so much with various focus all over the place that we don’t give ourselves enough credit. When one bad comment comes through, then we feel like we’ve done a poor job in everything. And so I would say that, please, you can imagine this scenario. You observe yourself from a third person point of view as you go through the scenario and really look at it from that person, yourself in that scenario, the point of view.

05:18 For me, when I did that, I was thinking about focusing on a patient one at a time. When I’m ready, I would see the next one, giving them full presence. Sometimes I do spend a little more time than usual. I prioritized pumping schedule. I didn’t compromise on that because that’s my family. I felt like at the time, it seemed like I couldn’t really balance family and working at the time. I felt like I should have been able to do both. I forgave myself in that situation. I knew that I could get better. If I have worked long enough, I knew I could find ways to get more efficient.

05:56 Number two, sometimes we would blame others reactively because of our ego and defense mechanism. Once we receive a constructive criticism, we start blaming other people. Like, “I did this because the other people didn’t do this.” Or, “I did this because your communication system is subpar.” That’s why, say, for example, in the ER, if somebody couldn’t find me, instead of saying, “Well, I could just leave my phone number with somebody or let everybody on the team know where I’m going like pumping,” versus, “Well, I was pumping, so they couldn’t find me. It’s their fault that they couldn’t find me. I was prioritizing my family.” Essentially, just not really caring about what other people thought. If they are saying I have lower efficiency, they needed my help and couldn’t find me, then it was their fault that they didn’t come find me. That’s an example of blame.

06:53 Instead, you change it around to thank them. Because eventually, you have to find the gift. So when you look at the scenario, find the gift in it and thank them for sharing that with you, for showing you. For me, the gift is that I realized that, yes, my efficiency definitely suffers depending on my mindset, if I’m using my critical care mindset and if I’m pumping. There are definitely ways I can improve. I really appreciate them shedding this light on me, because I never want to be the person who lets the team down. It also showed me that my personality has changed. I don’t like to be under a lot of stress anymore, like in the ER where I’m pushed to see one patient after the other after the other, and it feels incomplete in a way. I’m a person who is more suitable in a critical care environment, like a less stressful but it’s controlled stress in a way. There’s a little bit more time to work through the patients and talk to the patients and think in detail of all the systems. I realized that’s actually what I gravitate towards. So I thanked this scenario, this constructive criticism and feedback, for sharing that, for showing me that essentially.

08:10 So after you find the gift, then you make a decision. What is your priority in terms of if you’re going to address this or not? Is this something that you can automate, delegate, or completely eliminate? For me, I’ve decided that priority for me is low stress: to make milk for my baby. Because I think for me, because of the higher cortisol and stress — I’m still trying to be productive in real estate coaching, and podcast, and working — that I think that’s part of the reason why my milk supply is slow. I’m prioritizing family and pumping. That’s when I decided that I’m going to eliminate the shifts. I told the medical director that as long as I am pumping, I will not be picking up any more shifts because my priority is my family. I don’t want to pick up shifts and let the team down, so I decided to eliminate. You may decide that your priority is high enough that you’d like to go ahead and automate. Or, if this scenario, this constructive criticism is from your actual family, you might prioritize that as top. You might want to delegate certain things or automate certain things so that you can work things out with your family. Or eliminating things. Once you figure out your priority — if you can automate, delegate, or eliminate — then you seek out the solutions.

09:36 For me, the number one solution is, I eliminated the shift at this hospital just so that I’m not stressed out. I am, however, trialing out new hospital systems and culture to see whether it’ll fit my pace and my ideal stress level, I guess. My solution in order to get more efficient is that I’m going to be asking the physicians who are the fastest in the department. I’m going to ask them the three things that they do that allows them to be fast and efficient, three hacks that they do on the shift. With time, I know for sure that I will be faster. Like if I had 10 days straight to work, of course, I’m going to be at least 1% more efficient than the day prior. Absolutely. And to give myself a lot of grace as well at the very end. Because in the end, even 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 50, 100 years, none of this ever matter. It does not matter at all if you look at it in the grand scheme of things. You look at how big this universe is, this country, this city. Your one incident, just one interaction and one scenario that gave you the bad feelings really that you think about and ruminate over, really, other people are not thinking about it as hard as you are at all. Once they’ve given the criticism, they probably stopped thinking about it. Because people have their own priorities, their family, their life that they’re worried about. They don’t have the time to be thinking about you. So you ruminating and giving yourself negative self-talk is like you drinking the poison over and over and over again. That’s got to stop.

11:17 If you view this as a type of suffering — because it is the type of suffering where, emotionally, we feel bad. We feel ashamed. We feel like we are not productive and not as worthy as we thought we were because we have to perform and do things — instead of viewing it as a suffering, view it as a gift or a lesson in life. You’re coming out stronger. View it as a challenge, a huge fire that you’re going to cross and jump over. You’re just going to bring it on. Just tell them to bring it on full on. You’re going to jump in and tackle this challenge and get better and become more efficient. That’s my thought process. Towards the end, it was actually empowering for me. I used it as a fuel, actually. Because I had always been able to accomplish whatever I wanted if I had consistency and focus and put my mind to it. So I took this as a challenge. I will put a lot of focus on improving efficiency, changing my mindset from critical care to the ER. At the same time, I’m not jeopardizing my family at all whatsoever.

12:27 I want to share with you that the language that you use as well is very important. At first, I was using language like self-worth and shame. I feel like unworthy. Language like that, it’s very strong words. Instead of using those negative words that are very strong, I suggest that you use words that are just not very emotionally strong. In this scenario, it’s very curious that this scenario happened to me. Or I’m a little tickled that that person said that or thought that. It was funny that they thought that, et cetera, et cetera. Don’t give a situation strong energy or strong words attached to strong emotions, or else you will keep thinking and thinking and keep thinking about it. Just do the steps that I have outlined for you. Use mild language. And at the end, give yourself some grace and show gratitude for what happened.

13:30 I want to recap what we have talked about. When you receive constructive criticism, and if you’re the type of person who have been successful and a lot of times have imposter syndrome — feeling not enough, feeling like you need other people to validate your self-worth — I would say, number one, you make sure. Is this scenario true, what they’re saying? If it’s true, then forgive yourself. Forgive other people, and find the gift in it. What have you learned through it? How can you improve? Number four, determine your priority. Is a scenario, is this your top priority that you definitely like to fix? Or is it something that really doesn’t matter? There’s no point to ruminate on it and just forget about it, eliminate it as a whole. Number five, find a solution. If this is something you have determined that you want to get better at, and you want to fix, you want to improve, then find a solution. And remember, number six, that really none of this matters. Will it matter in 50 or 100 years? In this grand scheme of the universe, this really is not worth your emotional energy to ruminate on it. Because there are so much around you for you to observe to enjoy. Life is really beautiful. There are all these good things. I found myself when I’m breastfeeding my baby or interacting, connecting with my babies, sometimes my mind would go back to that incident and have that negative self-talk again. Don’t let this take the beautiful moments away from you in the present moment, please.

15:15 I want to thank you for your attention. I hope that this has been helpful for you. Remember that everything that we need is already within us now. A bad day or a bad period of your life does not define your life. You have not had a bad life. Take this on as a challenge to get better. I thank you for your kind attention, your presence. And as always, the show notes is on Please go to the website or my Facebook group. Feel free to join the Facebook group because I have a seven-day video masterclass on how to 2x, 3x your productivity in less than half the time. I also have discovery coaching calls available to set up for you. Feel free to send me a message or email me. We can set up a 15-minute discovery call to see if personalized coaching is right for you. There are limited spots per year. So if you are interested, please contact me, and we will see if we are a great fit. Again, thank you for your kind attention. You have a fantastic day.

16:26 Announcer That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review in iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung herself. Then be sure to head on over to, and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then join us on the next episode.

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